I picked up an Olympus D520z a few weeks ago at Best Buy for $299.00 And I'm thrilled with the quality of this so called "point and shoot" camera.
2 Mega Pixels
3x optical 2.5x digital zoom
30-60 sec's of video (quicktime) no sound
Smart Media storage (16 mb included)
video out connects to most TV's for slide show or video
2 AA for the flash (tip: get NIMH rechargables)
No I don't work for Olympus. I'm just quite satified for what I spent.
About a year ago I bought a Canon PowerShot A100, knowing absolutely nothing about digital cameras. I paid about $300 for it (and I paid too much for it). It was 1.2 megapixels and produced decent quality pictures to view on a monitor. A 1.2 megapixel camera (can you even get them anymore?) is not good enough for printing out your shots or for any sort of serious photography. Its basically good enough to take some shots and post them on a web-site, or send them by email. I'm pretty sure the PowerShot A100 has been discontinued, but if its still around, its a fairly solid little camera that does what it should, and probably won't cost you more than $100-150 these days. It also just uses compact flash as memory, and 2 AA batteries, which you can get anywhere. With 4 NiMH rechargeable batteries, and a 128MB compact flash card, my wife has taken it on holiday and not once has had to stop for anything, or missed getting the shot she wanted. On those rechargeable NiMH batteries you can pretty much use it all day straight, changing batteries only once in the day, and recharge the batteries overnight.
The other entry-level Canon is the PowerShot A200 at 2.0 megapixels. You should be able to find that one for cheap too. If you're thinking of printing out your photos and come away with any decent quality at all, you'll want a camera of at least 3 megapixels with a lot of memory. If you're willing to spend a bit more money, the Minolta Dimage X gets you excellent quality, and is small enough, and light enough, to be carried in a front-shirt pocket. With digital cameras you really have to pay for quality, but if you stick to one of the established camera manufacturers (like Canon, Minolta, Olympus, Nikon, etc) and have a look at their entry level models you'll be doing alright.
Although, to be perfectly honest, of everyone I know who's bought a digital camera over the last two years, themost satisfied users have ended up being the ones who shelled out the extra cash and bought a Minolta.
As for compatibility with Mac, all Canon cameras are OSX compatible. Just plug in the USB, and iPhoto will do the rest. The same goes for Minolta. I haven't tried any other brands since I switched to Mac. But again, if you stick to the more established manufacturers you should have no problem at all.
I bought a HP120 camera last summer for around $149. The price hasn't changed much at the retailers I've seen it at lately. It's very much a basic unit, but for normal (4"x6" type) snaps, it does the trick. Set up is easy, and I'm still amazed at the number of pics I get when using a CF card. I'm quite happy with it, but, then I have no illusions as to my photographic skills!
There are lots of good ones out there, but I swear by Kodak. I bought a Kodak DC240 back in 2000 and it is a dream! Solid and rugged. It's certainly heavier than the stuff out these days...but is is awesome.
As for working with OS X...best thing to do is just get a card reader and hook it directly to your USB. I have a small one I hook right in to the USB in my keyboard and the thing works like a dream in iPhoto.
If you are just doing really basic stuff with digital photos, iPhoto is the way to go....and it works with just about any camera under the sun.
VertiGoGo, I have a Kodak 280 and it too is like a tank, but has done the job for the past couple of years.
When you wrote that "As for working with OS X...best thing to do is just get a card reader and hook it directly to your USB. I have a small one I hook right in to the USB in my keyboard and the thing works like a dream in iPhoto.", I was wondering why the reader and not run a line from the camera into the USB port?
You could try searching through Steves web
site to find the camera that has the features
you want, Then you can do a search for the
best price after you decide on the best type of
camera to suit your needs.
The cameras that use compact flash are
usually the best buys, But that's just my opinion.
I have a Kyocera, it came with Windows software and most review sites said it was Windows only. When I tried everything to install the drivers in my WinXP, it wouldn't, nothing, zippo, nada..........you get the point.
Plugged it into my PB with OS X.2, presto, came up as USB Camera on the desktop.
So if you have some way of getting a PB and take it into a store to test any camera you might be interested in, might be an option.
Last Winter I was still dreaming of getting a Fuji FinePix 3800 - gorgeous, capable, feature-rich little camera. Make that, a gorgeous, capable, feature-rich expensive little camera.
However in March I had to go on a trip which more or less required a camera. So I decided to check out lower-end digital cameras. I ended up buying a Kodak EasyShare CX4200 mainly because of a blowout sale going on at a local Staples; the camera was $198.00 before taxes.
I was immediately impressed by the CX4200 - very easy to set up & use, sturdy, compact. It works seamlessly with iPhoto. The image quality is great - much better than I thought a 2.0 megapixel cheapie could be. While the Fuji would still be a great toy, I love my Kodak CX4200 and will stick with it for quite a while.
The only potential drawback with my CX4200 is that it doesn't have optical zoom - it has digital zoom only. The higher model, 4230, has both digital and optical zoom. In day to day use though, I haven't missed optical zoom at all. Heck, I haven't even used the digital zoom yet.
Any digital camera you buy will probably munch batteries like candy. I picked up a Duracell NiMH charger set which works well enough. But eventually I'll get a lithium setup as these cells don't poop out as quickly as NiMH.
Dolawren, I have been watching the Minolta 7i "sit" at $1500 since it first came out. I have held that camera in my hands, and I like the SLR feel and zoom features of this camera. However, I was thinking of getting this with my grant money, but that was back in the days when I was going to get an iMac. I just don't have that sort of money to pay for a digital camera just now.
The 7i and the 7Hi are expensive cameras
that offer 5 mp, The Dimage 5 that I have is a
3.3 mp camera. (The 7i had problems with it's
focussing and you needed to get an update for
it at an extra cost)
I paid about $899. Canadian + taxes, The form
factor is exactly the same as the Dimage 7i
and 7Hi except the Dimage 5 has a longer
focal length to the lens and in my opinion is
the best camera ever offered by Minoltas
digital division. (Best value for the money)
dolawren, I just might look at the 5 rather than the 7i. I have been using a Minolta SLR since 1977, and I like Minolta products. This is also why I am looking for a good scanner to use for all of the quality slides and prints that I have made over the years.
Just two quick points. As to compatibility, the only time I've experienced a problem was when I was trying to download images onto a Wintel box. iPhoto is a revelation for those who do their computing on the dark side.
Secondly, Dr. G., the card readers simplify the process of getting images into your Mac. Using the camera sometimes means installing the programs from the manufacturer and doing things in a prescribed manner. With a reader, the card just shows up on your screen like a removable drive with files to be treated in any way you like. It's very quick and painless.
Johnny, how do you find Nikon products (I know about their reputation, but you actually have a 4500). I am a Minolta person, and what Dolawren says makes sense. However, I have been looking at Nikon and Canon products to balance off the Minolta digital cameras.